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Is the universe fine-tuned for intelligent life?

Is the universe fine-tuned for intelligent life? Astrophysicist Geraint Lewis and cosmologist Luke Barnes, both at the University of Sydney, Australia, wade into this perplexing and controversial arena in a new book, published by Cambridge University Press, entitled A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos.

The book presents a comprehensive analysis of the

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Exoplanets, 4 billion-year-old life, Fermi’s paradox and zero-one laws

What do exoplanets, four-billion-year-old life, Fermi’s paradox and zero-one laws of probability theory have to do with each other? Quite a bit, actually. Let us review these developments, one by one:

New exoplanet discoveries

Depiction of the seven exoplanets of the TRAPPIST-1 system. Courtesy NASA.

On 22 February 2017, a consortium of NASA and European

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Christmas 2016: Benefits of a charitable life

Introduction

Recently several books written by prominent authors have been published that attack religious belief as a pernicious delusion. The four most prominent authors are Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens [Dawkins2006; Dennett2006; Harris2006; Hitchens2007]. Along this line, physicist Victor J. Stenger, in his book God: The Failed Hypothesis and other writings,

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Shawn Otto’s “The War on Science”

Shawn Otto has written a new book on science denialism, entitled The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About it.

Otto argues that modern science is under attack from three directions: (a) the academic left, which has asserted that science has no claim to objective truth, (b) the

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Why science needs the humanities

Introduction

Foster in Contact, saying “They should have sent a poet”

Earlier this year, Kentucky governor Matt Bevin declared that state colleges and universities should educate more electrical engineers and fewer French literature majors: “All the people in the world that want to study French literature can do so, they are just not going

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Bacteria adapt to antibiotics before your eyes

How fast can evolution operate?

A common arguments against evolution raised by creationist and intelligent design writers is that no significant changes have ever been observed by humans in biological species, so evolution must be regarded only as a “theory.” In a previous Blog, we mentioned how this argument is refuted by recent research results,

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How fast can evolution operate?

Creationists often argue that evolution is “only a theory” [Miller2008]. This claim of course confuses the vernacular meaning of “theory” (a half-baked conjecture that has not been seriously tested) with the scientific meaning of “theory” (a solid, falsifiable hypothesis that has led to a rich literature of quantitative, empirical science). Behind the creationists’ comment is

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Are Noah’s ark and flood literal scientific facts?

Introduction

In Williamstown, Kentucky, a full-scale reproduction of Noah’s ark is now open to the public. Claimed to be the largest all-wood structure in the world, it is 155 m (510 ft) long, 26 m (85 ft) wide, and 16 m (51 ft) high, closely corresponding to the biblical dimensions, given in Genesis 6:15, namely

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Are the “hobbits” a separate prehuman species?

The 2004 “hobbit” discovery and controversy

In 2004 the scientific world was startled by the announcement of the discovery of Homo floresiensis, more commonly known as the “hobbit” due to its diminutive size, on the island of Flores in the Indian Ocean north of Australia. Remarkably, this specimen lived until as recently as 66,000 years

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The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria: Evolution before our eyes

Introduction

Creationists often argue that evolution is “just a theory,” since we don’t see it in action today — it is “hypothesized” to have occurred, but scientists have no proof. Intelligent design writers acknowledge that evolution might occur “within kinds,” but question whether it can occur beyond the limits of a “kind” (which probably means

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